Lennox Berkeley – Chamber Music

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: L Berkeley
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Horn Trio; Flute Sonatina; Viola Sonata; Quintet for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and Piano
PERFORMER: Susanne Stanzeleit (violin), Patrick Williams (flute), Morgan Goff (viola), Raphael Terroni (piano); Members of the New London Chamber Ensemble: Melanie Ragge (oboe), Neyire Ashworth (clarinet), Stephen Stirling (horn), Adam Mackenzie (bassoon)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572288

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Wind players have much to thank Lennox Berkeley for. Unlike so many other composers, he gave them a weighting in his oeuvre equal to the otherwise lavishly favoured string players.

This disc encompasses only a small part of that work, so one hopes it is destined to become part of a series, for there is some captivating music here, starting with the Trio for violin, horn and piano, written in 1953 (the booklet claims 1944) and premiered by Dennis Brain no less.

Its highlight is a wonderfully inventive and wide-ranging movement of variations. Susanne Stanzeleit’s violin tone is a little ungrateful on the ear, but Stephen Stirling’s horn playing is magical. 

The Sonatina for flute (originally recorder) is suavely if a bit breathily played by Patrick Williams, and there’s some deft give and take in the New London Chamber Ensemble’s account of the late Quintet for wind and piano.

Just to remind us that Berkeley hardly ignored string players either, there’s the Viola Sonata of 1946, a darker, deeply thought work to which Morgan Goff brings
both sensitivity and charisma.

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Pianist Raphael Terroni is a constant throughout these performances and is clearly a demur yet supportive chamber player. The recordings are close but generously proportioned. Matthew Rye